Using a competitive radioimmunoassay to measure total immunoreactive vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), we describe for the first time longitudinal changes in serum VEGF in early pregnancy. The measurements were obtained from 26 women following the transfer of cryopreserved embryos; 18 singleton and eight twin pregnancies were identified by ultrasound at 6 weeks gestation and subsequently delivered as live births. Subjects did not have corpora lutea and exogenous hormone support was provided for the first 70 days of pregnancy. Serum VEGF increased approximately 30 days after embryo transfer and thereafter continued to rise in both singleton and twin pregnancies over a period of 20-40 days after which concentrations remained elevated. The longitudinal profile of serum VEGF concentrations was characterized by a logistic curve for singleton and twin pregnancies; the profile of VEGF concentrations in the twin pregnancies was significantly higher than in the singleton pregnancies (P < 0.0001). Profiles of the longitudinal concentrations of serum human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), oestradiol and progesterone were created by polynomial regression for singleton and twin pregnancies. The VEGF profiles were positively correlated with the profiles of HCG (r = 0.44, P = 0.02) and oestradiol (r = 0.36, P = 0.07) but not progesterone (r = 0.16, P = 0.42). Serum VEGF concentrations in the singleton thawed embryo pregnancies were compared with gestation-matched normal singleton pregnancies with corpora lutea. Concentrations of VEGF were significantly (P = 0.004) greater in the pregnancies with corpora lutea although this difference became less marked with advancing gestation. In addition to its important role in angiogenesis, we speculate that VEGF is involved in mechanisms which control the maternal cardiovascular adaptation to pregnancy.